Few social anthropologists have had as astute or profound an understanding of what makes the Irish psyche tick than the late Niall Toibín.
Asked once was he proud to be born in Cork he exuded the ultimate humility by proclaiming that ‘I’m not so much proud as grateful.’
He would then go on to create a series of enduring county identities and personae most notably:- ‘Cute Cork Whores; Mane Cavan Bastards; and Indignant Dublin Jackeens.’
He famously declared on the Late Late Show that ‘a Dublin man would rather be indignant, than happy, any day of the week.’
Throughout all his research however there is one enduring conclusion.
True wisdom, according to Tobín, is found only in Kerry.
Reilly learned something of this sagacity on his honeymoon in Parknasilla.
On his first morning he went downstairs to purloin a daily newspaper.
Tom Doyle, the head concierge, and one of the three wise men renowned for setting the standards of the hotel, performed an on-the spot interview.
It felt to Reilly as if his entire soul had been bared.
Midway through the interview, the phone rang and Tom answered it as reverently as if the Taoiseach of Ireland himself had been on the line.
Reilly heard a pronounced Dublin 4 accent on the line asking Tom to reserve a copy of ‘The Irish Times’ as Conor Brady had ostensibly penned a controversial editorial on the decline of the German ‘Mork.’ (Readers of Ross O’Carroll O’Kelly will have no problem with translating this.)
Tom quickly gesticulated to an attendant porter who ‘was already ready ’ to immediately dispatch the paper to Room 14.
Tom then proceeded to hold the caller online with a series of questions on what his views were on the issue of ‘The German Mork.’
With that there was the clear sound of three loud knocks on a door.
‘That will be Master O’Sullivan with your ‘Irish Times’ Sir and I think you’ll find that Mr Brady’s treatment of the issue is finely balanced.’
Reilly had often heard lip service being paid to outstanding customer service. It was the first time he’d experienced witnessing it live.
It was like watching David Clifford fillet a back line as he’d done to Reillys beloved Galway in 2022.
Later that day, the actual Taoiseach of Ireland, Bertie Ahern, requested the company of the three wise men – Tom Doyle, Jackie Moriarty and Sonny Looney. Sonny had had a fresh barrel of Bass specially transported by helicopter to ‘The Doolittle Bar’ where many years previously, George Bernard Shaw had penned ‘Pygmalion.’
As luck would have it, that was the precise time a Sunday World reporter, in desperate search of a story chanced to ring Parknasilla, and Master O’Sullivan happened to answer the call.
‘How many pints of Bass did Bertie have last night,’ asked the wily hack.
‘Seventeen,’ said Master O’Sullivan honestly and proud of his leaders ability – even though he was a Dub – to hold his own with the finest of Kerry men.
When the following morning, ‘The Sunday World’ led with the headline ‘Bertie Goes On Binge In Parknasilla As Country Goes Down The Drain,’ Master O’Sullivan knew that his days in hospitality with Tom Doyle were firmly behind him and a different career in journalism beckoned.
Reilly brought Finn to Parknasilla during the week to experience the wisdom of ‘The Kingdom.’
Tim Buckley – the resident actor, poet, seanchaí and saoí – still keeps a barrel of Bass on tap for those interested in poetry and literature and soul. Reilly and Finn and himself had a right good session.
Reilly was explaining to Finn that Kerry people rejoice in getting one up on their Dublin counterparts.
Ryan Tubridy, famously and naively, once asked Tim on live radio, if he’d be accompanying his daughter – the magnificent actor and singer – Jessie Buckley – to the BAFTA Awards.
‘Listen here now Ryan, I’m from Kerry: we rarely go to semi-finals, so I’ll be waiting for the ticket to the Oscars.’
One nil and game over for Kerry.
Later in their chat Tim needled Reilly that he should be writing more poetry in his weekly column.
‘I can’t write poetry Tim.’
As Reilly and Finn were departing on Friday morning Tim whispers through the car window at Reilly.
‘Reilly, if you can’t be a poet, be the poem.’
‘What does that mean?’ says Reilly, intrigued.
But Tim was gone, with that quizzical smile on his dial.
That’s the Kerry Way.
They set the questions. Then they wait whilst you do the thinking.
Reilly’s been thinking about it all weekend.
What are your thoughts?
- Make the acquisition and application of wisdom your core personal purpose.
- Make outstanding customer experiences your core business purpose.
- Bring the type of ‘Soul’ that Tom Doyle, Jackie Moriarty, Sonny Looney and Tim Buckley brought and bring to Parknasilla.
- And every success and Blessing to Francis and John Brennan who, this week, sold the Park Hotel in Kenmare. They too made serving others their purpose, obsession and unique competitive advantage.
- If you can’t paint, then send someone who can to an art class.
‘Cork are on the field. Kerry are on the field. Cork are ready. But Kerry are already ready.’ —Mícheal Ó Muircheartaigh, commentating without bias, at the start of a Munster Football Final sometime in the eighties.
‘Most of the material is my own, stolen from the plain people of Ireland, re-sprayed, re-moulded, re-bored and given false number plates.’ —Niall Toibín
Reilly once asked Eunan, the barman in the old Harvey’s Point, if he’d be able to get to Letterkenny through the snow in the morning.
‘That all depends Reilly whether you’re on salary or commission.’
They’d love that type of wisdom in Kerry.
1. If you can’t be a poet, what poem will you be?